When sustainable fashion first burst onto the scene, we were introduced to a number of “eco-friendly” fabrics, such as organic cotton, tencel, and bamboo. Each carried sustainable properties, whether that meant being free of pesticides or fertilizers, produced in a closed-loop system, or made from durable and renewable materials
At first, BAMBOO fabric made a lot of sense. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants on earth, with one species recorded growing three feet in a single day. Bamboo does not use or rely on chemicals, fertilizers or insecticides to grow. And it requires little water, unlike conventional cotton.
In comparison to cotton, bamboo is known to improve watersheds, purify air quality, and remove toxins from contaminated soil, all with less water consumption and no harmful environmental impact. Bamboo is often planted to prevent soil erosion, it can absorb up to 12 tons of carbon dioxide per hectare and it produces 30% more oxygen than any hardwood forest of similar size. It can also be selectively harvested annually, and it naturally regenerates without replanting.
Bamboo may seem like a miracle fibre. In addition, it is soft, affordable, it saves water and is free from pesticides. However, it is transforming it from the plant into a fabric that’s the more complicated issue.
Bamboo fabric is a natural textile made from the pulp of the bamboo grass. Bamboo fabric has been growing in popularity because it has many unique properties and is more sustainable than most textile fibers. Bamboo fabric is light and strong, has excellent wicking properties, and is to some extent antibacterial. The use of bamboo fiber for clothing was a 20th century development, pioneered by several Chinese corporations.
Bamboo fiber resembles cotton in its unspun form, a puffball of light, airy fibers. Many companies use extensive bleaching processes to turn bamboo fiber white, although companies producing organic bamboo fabric leave the bamboo fiber unbleached. To make bamboo fiber, bamboo is heavily pulped until it separates into thin component threads of fiber, which can be spun and dyed for weaving into cloth.
Bamboo fabric is very soft and can be worn directly next to the skin. Many people who experience allergic reactions to other natural fibers, such as wool or hemp, do not complain of this issue with bamboo. The fiber is naturally smooth and round without chemical treatment, meaning that there are no sharp spurs to irritate the skin.
Benefits of Bamboo fabric:
- Antibacterial – keeps you odor free and feeling and smelling fresh
- Highly sweat absorbent (Pulls moisture from skin for evaporation – moisture wicking) – keeps you dry
- Powerfully insulating – keeps you cooler in summer and warmer in winter
- One of the softest fabrics on the planet you’ll love the way it feels
- Naturally UV protectant – protect yourself from skin cancer
- Hypoallergenic – natural bamboo does not cause allergic reactions
- Most eco-friendly fabric on the planet – help save your planet
During the 1990’s, before saving our world became a mainstream concern, ‘going green’ has taken the front seat in almost every industry.
Even the fashion industry which is obviously known for its concern in creating style and setting new trends has incorporated ways to be more environmentally friendly. With the growing popularity of a new fabric made of bamboo, designers have slowly begun to use bamboo fabric in many of their up coming collections.
Benefits To Manufacturers
Bamboo fabric is favored by companies trying to use sustainable textiles, because the bamboo plant is very quick growing and does not usually require the use of pesticides and herbicides to thrive. As a result, plantations can easily be kept organic and replanted yearly to replenish stocks. The process of making unbleached bamboo fiber is very light on chemicals that could potentially harm the environment.
Just because a fabric is made with bamboo doesn’t mean it’s necessarily eco-friendly though. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sent out several warnings about rayon fabrics made with bamboo because of pollution created during the manufacturing process, so eco-conscious consumers should be sure to check the origins of their fabric.
In many textile forms, bamboo retains many of the properties it has as a plant. Bamboo is highly water absorbent, able to take up three times its weight in water. In bamboo fabric, this translates to an excellent wicking ability that will pull moisture away from the skin so that it can evaporate. For this reason, clothing made of bamboo fiber is often worn next to the skin.
Bamboo also has many antibacterial qualities, which bamboo fabric is apparently able to retain, even through multiple washings. This helps to reduce bacteria that thrive on clothing and cause unpleasant odors. It can also kill odor causing bacteria that live on human skin, making the wearer and his or her clothing smell more sweet. In addition, bamboo fabric has insulating properties and will keep the wearer cooler in summer and warmer in winter. The versatility of bamboo fabric makes it an excellent choice for clothing designers exploring alternative textiles, and in addition, the fabric is able to take bright dye colors well, drape smoothly, and star in a variety of roles from knit shirts to woven skirts.
In conclusion, all the above shows how Africa can benefit from the unexplored alternative Bamboo fibre. It is upon textile manufacturers in Africa to drive this innovative agenda and spearhead the use of Bamboo fibre as an affordable alternative. likewise, this will promote the fashion industry in Africa as it will reduce the cost of production and bring employment to the vibrant youths. Adopting the use of Bamboo fibre will furthermore give the Mutumba (Second hand clothes) a natural death, which is what we need if the fashion industry is to thrive in Africa,
Textile manufacturers, Fashion designers, Fashion Models, policy makers and the relevant stakeholders, be free to engage and give your opinion as we seek alternative ways to Sustainable living in Africa.
Miss Wendy Omanga
Founder: Glam World.
courtesy of Wikipedia.